Sit Less to Live Longer
Regardless of whether one gets sufficient exercise or not, over the last few years, several health experts have spoken about how spending a large amount of one’s time sitting is injurious to health. According to a new study, published in the journal BMJ Open, the life expectancy of people who spend over three hours a day sitting is two years less than of those who spend less time seated daily.
Researchers arrived at this conclusion after analysing five large-scale studies covering about 2 million people in several countries. Peter Katzmarzyk of Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, who led the study, found that life expectancy reduces regardless of whether a person gets sufficient exercise or not. Previous studies had found that prolonged sitting increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, decreases insulin effectiveness and slows metabolism.
His analysis also found that people who spend less than two hours daily watching television live about 1.4 years longer than people who spend more than two hours a day watching engaged by the idiot box.
Katzmarzyk’s isn’t the first study to document the ill effects of sedentary behaviour. A 2011 study discovered that people who watched an average of six hours of television a day lived 4.8 years less than those who didn’t watch any. This research also found that every hour of TV that people watched after age 25 was associated with a 22-minute reduction in their life expectancy. However, Katzmarzyk’s study takes a broader look, calculating the cumulative effect on overall life expectancy of a sedentary population.
The authors note that their paper assumes cause-and-effect relationships between sitting/TV time and life expectancy. According to them, differently designed research is needed to confirm whether such a cause-and-effect relationship is in fact in play. Still, the authors suggest people with desk jobs take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch; they also say one should get up and walk to co-workers’ desks rather than communicate via e-mail or phone.